Rigatoni with Garlic-Lime Yogurt Sauce, Peas, and Chive

I came across the idea for a yogurt based pasta sauce when a photo from Al Cibo Commestibile popped up in my Foodgawker feed a few weeks ago.  Yogurt-based sauces are not new, nor are they rare.  You can find them here.  And here.  And here.  However, this yogurt sauce also had lime in it.  I love yogurt, but I adore lime so I knew I had to try it.  I bookmarked it for future experimentation.  The original recipe is very simple (from what Google translator was able to tell me): cook spaghetti and top it with a mixture of plain Greek yogurt and lime juice.  Tonight the hubby is on a road trip with his friends, so I am here all by my lonesome to contemplate dinner for one.  Since hubby is not really a fan of nontraditional pasta sauces, particularly meatless ones, tonight was the perfect night to give this a whirl.

I started with only the original recipe, and after tasting it, added a few things as I went along.  The sauce of yogurt and lime juice alone seemed to be missing something when I tasted it.  I checked the original recipe again to make sure I hadn’t missed, you know, salt or something else significant.  But no, I had not.  So, I decided to shove off into uncharted waters.  I added some very finely minced garlic and a bit of salt and pepper to the sauce based on some other yogurt sauce recipes I found online.  That definitely brought the flavors up.  Since the lime is quite tart, I decided to add some peas to the dish.  I love peas in almost any pasta dish, especially ones with creamy sauces.  When I add peas to pasta, I always just put the frozen peas in my colander and drain my pasta over them.  The boiling water quickly heats the peas without overcooking them, so they stay nice and fresh.

The peas were a definite good call because this pasta dish was just okay.  It was acceptable.  Average.  Worth eating, but not worth calling my mom about.  Know what I mean?  If I hadn’t added the peas and garlic, I don’t know that I would have enjoyed it at all.  Even with those additions, I feel like the dish was missing something, and I think that something is Parmesan cheese.  The peas and the sauce hit all the right notes of tangy and fresh, green and sweet, but there was an earthy/salty component that was missing.  It definitely needed to be there.  The peas in the sauce were actually the best part…the juxtaposition of tart lime with sweet peas, creamy yogurt, and fresh chives is fantastic.  If this had been a bowl of hot peas with yogurt sauce, I think I could have given the dish a 5-star review.  It was the pasta that seemed to get in the way of the whole experience.  I think some nice shards of Parmesan cheese broken over the top of this dish would have taken it from acceptable to great.  Or, perhaps some crumbled bacon on top might have had the same effect.  As it was I, the epitome of picky eater, finished my plate so it obviously is tasty on some levels.  It just comes across as an unfinished recipe, one that leaves something to be desired and needs continued experimentation to find that missing element.  I’ll give it another go or two, and post back with updates on whether or not I have achieved yogurt sauce perfection.

If you try it and make your own changes, let me know how it turns out! 

Rigatoni with Garlic-Lime Yogurt Sauce, Peas, and Chive
Inspired by Al Cibo Commestibile
Serves one or two

Ingredients:
1-2 cups rigatoni pasta (or, approximately 1-2 servings of any other long or short pasta)

Sauce:

1/3 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1 small clove garlic, finely minced
Zest of 1/2 lime
Lime juice to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh chives, snipped
Shaved Parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions:
Cook pasta according to package directions.  While pasta is cooking, combine yogurt, minced garlic, and lime zest in a small bowl.  Add lime juice, salt, and pepper to taste.  Stir well and set aside.

Just before draining pasta, reserve 1 cup of the salted pasta water.  Also, before draining pasta, place 1/2 cup frozen peas in the colander.  Drain pasta on top of peas.  The boiling water will flash-cook the peas.  Return pasta and peas to pot.  Stir in yogurt sauce.  Add reserved pasta water to reach desired sauce thickness.  Serve immediately, topped with snipped chives and shaved Parmesan, if desired.

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